President Obama’s free trade agenda suffered a setback yesterday after the Senate was unable to reach the 60 votes needed to close debate on legislation granting President Obama fast track negotiating authority. The bill, supported by the White House and Congressional Republicans, would have made approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a free trade deal encompassing 14 countries and widely seen as a counterweight to Chinese influence—a foregone conclusion. But sharp divisions between President Obama and Congressional Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), scudded the motion.
At issue are concerns over the scope of the agreement and protections afforded for workers and the environment. Congressional Democrats, leery of the deal in light of what they see as a mixed record for NAFTA and other free trade agreements, are demanding increased protections. They are also Congressional Republicans oppose such measures, while the White House claims they are unnecessary.
What do you think? Would the Trans-Pacific Partnership be beneficial or detrimental to the US economy? Would you support measures proposed by Congressional Democrats to include increased protections for workers and the environment as a precondition for approving the new deal? Why?